Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Whalers pick up McGillis from Colts

The Plymouth Whalers acquired 20-year-old left wing Cory McGillis from the Barrie Colts today in exchange for an eighth-round draft choice in 2009 and a third-round draft choice in 2010.

“Cory is a big, physical power forward who has a nice scoring touch around the net,” Plymouth GM Mike Vellucci said.

McGillis is 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds and can play center or left wing.

Ontario Hockey League teams can carry three overage players (1988 birthdays) on the roster. Along with right wing Patrick Lee, the acquisition of McGillis gives Plymouth two overagers.

McGillis, a Coniston, Ont., native, is no stranger to the West Division. He was originally selected in the first round (seventh overall) by the Windsor Spitfires in the 2004 draft, where he played for 2 1/2 seasons. McGillis was acquired by Barrie at the 2007 trade deadline and enjoyed his best offensive season last year with Barrie when he scored 18 goals with 21 assists for 39 points in 48 games.

Overall, McGillis has scored 51 goals with 56 assists for 107 points with 394 penalty minutes in 205 career games.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Jets captain Novack leads by example

Adam Novack was one of just a handful of skaters to return to the Metro Jets from last season and he’s brought back improved leadership qualities that have made the team brass name him captain this year.

Novack, a 19-year-old native of Rochester Hills, posted seven goals and 19 points a year ago, but seems primed to break those totals this season.

More than points, though, is why Novack has the ‘C’ on his left shoulder this year.

“Adam is your typical lead-by-example captain,” Jets GM Butch Wolfe said. “But if something needs to be said on the bench or in the locker room, you can bet he’ll speak up. He is very mature and knows how to conduct himself in a professional manner on and off the ice.

“‘Novy’ is a great ambassador for not only our hockey club, but for the entire Central States Hockey League.”

Alternate captains under Novack are third-year defenseman Brett Grech (Hartland) and 20-year-old forward Jonathan Asher.

Grech has been steady all season, prompting Metro assistant coach Ryan Skop to say he’s been playing “out of his mind,” while Asher signed with the Jets over the summer, had a tryout with the Weyburn Red Wings of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, and then rejoined the Jets for their season opener on Sept. 6 against Toledo. His plane landed in Windsor at 5:30 that afternoon and he drove to Waterford, missed warm-ups, but dressed in time to play in the game.

Whalers deal Yovanic to Knights for pick

The Plymouth Whalers traded 19-year-old left wing Mike Yovanic to the London Knights today in exchange for an eighth-round draft choice in the 2010 OHL Priority Selection.

Yovanic, a Highland native, was signed by the Whalers as a free agent at the beginning of last season. He played in 21 games last year, compiling 25 penalty minutes.

This season, Yovanic played in Plymouth's first two games and compiled 10 PIMs.

Photo by Donna Roberts

Challenge Cup series starts tomorrow night

Last season, the Marquette Rangers and Traverse City North Stars introduced the Smith Barney Challenge Cup to their fans. The Cup, sponsored by Smith Barney offices in Marquette and Traverse City, is awarded to the team who wins the head-to-head competition between the two squads at the end of season.

Traverse City claimed the title of the Challenge Cup in its inaugural season when the team came from behind to win it in the last game of the season against the Rangers.

"Winning the Cup last season was a bright spot in a season where we had higher expectations, but it's something we look at that happened last season that we can build on," North Stars head coach Anthony Palumbo said. "We made a strong push at the end of the season and that became one of our main goals as the playoffs became out of reach. We wanted to win the Marquette series."

The creation of the Challenge Cup not only added to the two teams' competition, but also has given fans another reason to cheer louder.

"It was new to our fans last season and it gained some popularity as the season went on," Palumbo added. " I think as we continue to build the rivalry with Marquette the Cup will become more of a focus for our fans."

However, Rangers head coach Kenny Miller views the Challenge Cup in a different light as he hopes to capture the title this season.

"It's a terrific added prize for the season, but in all honesty it's only a piece of the bigger picture," he said. "Sure we'd like to claim the Challenge Cup this year, and I think if we're successful through the season, winning the Cup will kind of fall into place.

"The Smith Barney Challenge Cup certainly adds to the fun of playing the game and to playing against Traverse City. I know some of our guys were disappointed after last year so we're going to making winning it one of many goals this season."

For the players, the Challenge Cup is an added incentive on the season as well.

"Watching them (Traverse City) skate off the ice with that thing last year didn't sit very well," said Rangers forward and captain Aaron Pietila. "We want to make some noise in our division this year, and I think if we do that, winning the Cup will hopefully be one of a lot of things we accomplish this season."

Palumbo added, "Winning the Challenge Cup will be part of our goals for the upcoming season. We're hoping to win all our series against the teams in our division but the Challenge Cup will definitely provide some additional incentive for our team against Marquette."

The first game of 12 contests between the Rangers and North Stars begins on Friday at Marquette's Lakeview Arena with an 8 p.m. faceoff.

Two points are awarded to a team for a win, one point is awarded for an overtime loss and no points are given for a regulation loss. At the end of the season, the points are totaled and the team with the most points claims the Challenge Cup.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Saginaw acquires OA Bochek from Fronts

The Saginaw Spirit completed a trade with the Kingston Frontenacs today, acquiring forward Kyle Bochek from the Fronts in return for the Spirit’s seventh-round pick in the 2010 OHL Priority Selection.

Bochek, an overager from Port Severn, Ont., spent the last two season with the Frontenacs, accumulating 17 goals and 17 assists. Last season, he notched 10 goals and 10 assists in 54 games.

“Having watched Kyle play on multiple occasions, he is a natural centerman and a gritty grinder that competes on every shift,” stated Spirit GM Don Edwards.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Grech playing 'out of his mind' for Jets

Though the Metro Jets have stumbled to an 0-4-0 mark in the Central States Hockey League this season, there are positives to be taken.

One of those is 17-year-old Hartland native and third-year skater Brett Grech, the anchor on Metro’s defense corps. Grech, who came to the Jets from the Lakeland Hawks Midget A team in 2006, is currently tied for the team lead in scoring with five points (four on the power play)through four games and has been logging important minutes on the back end.

Thing is, he’s a natural forward playing defense this year.

“I’m really happy with what ‘Grechy’ has done for us so far,” Metro head coach Jamie Hayden said of his alternate captain. “We moved him back to ‘D’ and skill-wise, he’s as good as anyone in the league. I just think to get better it’s just a matter of getting his bearings back there. At the end of the year, he could be one of the best defensemen in the league.”

“Grech has been playing out of his mind,” Jets assistant coach Ryan Skop added.

Grech has points in every game this season and scored his first goal in Wednesday night’s 5-4 loss in Flint. During the 2007-2008 season, Grech led the Jets in scoring with 16 goals among 33 points and seems poised to top that mark this season.

“He’s been a bright spot for us,” said Hayden. “He moves the puck well on the power play and blocks shots down low. As far as returning guys, he’s been the one that’s stepped up to the plate for us.

“We just have to get some of the other guys to follow his lead, but until that happens, we’ll probably be on the tail end of more games like we’ve been playing.”

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Plymouth ready for start of '08-09 season

Courtesy Plymouth Whalers

Some will say the Plymouth Whalers had a down year in 2007-08.

At 34-28-2-4, 74 points and a .544 winning percentage, the Whalers weren’t bad, but finished eighth overall in the tough Western Conference.

This year, most observers feel the Windsor Spitfires are the top team in the league and the Western Conference remains strong. The Whalers? Flying a little below the radar as the 2008-09 season starts.

Expect that to change as the season wears on.

“We have a lot of returning players this year and we’ve added a couple of good players (2007 first-round choice Beau Schmitz and 2008 first-round choice Tyler Seguin) at key positions,” said Plymouth head coach Greg Stefan. “I’m really excited from the first day of training camp to see how our younger players from last year develop. Hopefully, they’ll continue to improve this year.

“We’re excited about getting the talent and skill-level of Schmitz and Seguin into our lineup. Having said that, they are only 16 and 17-years-old in a 19-year-old league and you have to be patient with them. But with their skill-level and skating ability, they should be able to contribute to our team right away.”

GOALTENDING: The three Whalers goaltenders are in different stages of their respective careers. Jeremy Smith (Brownstown) – already signed by the NHL’s Nashville Predators – comes back as one of the best goaltenders in the OHL. Eighteen-year-old Matt Hackett – acquired by the Whalers from Windsor last November in the Michal Neuvirth deal – came to the Whalers last year as an unknown quantity, but established himself as a capable OHL goaltender. Hackett is a steady goaltender who seems to flourish in shootouts. Rookie Scott Wedgewood comes in highly touted, played well in preseason and will see playing time when Smith is away at Nashville’s camp and then if Smith makes Team USA for the World Junior Championship.

“I think this year’s going to be a big year for Jeremy,” said Stefan. “He got last season as the number one guy under his belt and we expect big things from him. He’s one of the key players for our success this year. With Matt, I had never seen him until last year, but I thought he played well. Saying that, I think Matt has to come in from the start of this year and play well. I think he’s capable of doing just that.”

Hackett played well to close out the preseason, stopping 45-of-48 shots in London in a 4-3 victory over the Knights on September 12 as the game’s first star and then went 38-of-42 in a 4-1 loss to London the next evening.

BLUE LINE: The Whalers expected veteran Brett Bellemore to return as an overager, but Bellemore played so well for Albany of the American Hockey League last spring that he was signed by the Carolina Hurricanes. Bellemore isn’t expected back in Plymouth.

Schmitz, a Howell native, is in from the National Team Development Program and he will add offense, skating and a certain amount of grit. Steady second-year defenseman Josh Bemis (Clarkston) is back healthy after missing 41 games last year with a broken wrist. Plymouth will benefit with returnees Michal Jordan (Carolina draft pick), Christian Steingraber, Jordon O’Neill and Leo Jenner. The Whalers' coaching staff likes the potential of rookie blueliners Austin Levi (Farmington Hills) and Anthony Donati. Import selection Jan Látal has played well in preseason and lends a steady presence.

OFFENSE: With 195 points (75 goals and 120 assists) in 200 career games with the Whalers, veteran Chris Terry comes into the season 124 points shy of Pat Peake’s all-time franchise record of 319 points.

Terry – who had three goals during the preseason – will finish his Whalers career somewhere in the top 10 in all franchise scoring categories. He was named team captain for 2008-09 on Monday.

Veteran Vern Cooper got off to a sizzling start in training camp and led the Whalers with five goals during the preseason. He expects to continue to put up the points during his NHL Draft season.

Third-year forward AJ Jenks (Wolverine Lake) made the Whalers as a rookie in 2006-07 as a penalty killer and depth player, then blossomed offensively last year with 26 goals and 29 assists for 55 points. Drafted by the Florida Panthers in the fourth round (100th overall) in last summer’s NHL Entry Draft, Jenks is making a positive impression with Florida in his NHL Training Camp and will go to the Panthers’ main camp later this month. Stefan awarded Jenks an “A” as an alternate captain for the second straight season.

If you like a blue collar grinder with plays with grit, third-year-forward Kaine Geldart is your man. Quiet off the ice, Geldart gets chirped and chirps with the opposition as much as anyone in the OHL. He was voted the Whalers Labatt Blue Collar Player of the Year last season and will continue in that role this year. Stefan awarded Geldart an “A” as alternate captain on Monday.

SECOND YEAR FORWARDS: Expect second year forwards RJ Mahalak (Monroe), Tyler J. Brown (Westland), Tyler G. Brown and Ryan Hayes to improve offensively in 2008-09. Hayes – who joined the Whalers at mid-season last year after leaving Boston College – played well in training camp and in the preseason and appears to be primed to have a big year. In addition, Mahalak and TG Brown both played well in the preseason.

FORWARD PUPS: There’s a reason Seguin was selected by the Whalers ninth overall in the last spring’s OHL draft. Skilled offensively, Seguin appears to be a good faceoff man and is improving defensively. Jamie Devane is tall and lanky with a good reach. Devane’s offensive numbers will come with experience. Myles McCauley (Sterling Heights) is a skilled centerman who appears to be able to kill penalties.

UNSUNG, BUT EFFECTIVE: It’s taken a little time, but Joe Gaynor appears to be ready to have an excellent year. Always good defensively, Gaynor used his size effectively during the preseason.

DARK HORSE?: Sportsnet.ca writer Patrick King rates the Whalers as a darkhorse in his Ontario Hockey League preview.

King writes: “It wasn't necessarily a rebuilding season for the Plymouth Whalers who entered last season as defending league champions. However, with a core of returning players which include American world junior goaltender Jeremy Smith, the Whalers could quietly put together another strong season."I don't know if a lot of people are talking about Plymouth but I like their team an awful lot," a coach said. "I think they're a bit of a sleeper with Jeremy Smith in net. (Forward) Chris Terry could be an MVP this year. They've just got some real nice weapons. They're also very rugged, they always play that way. They're going to be a tough opponent."

"I like to say that Plymouth team because nobody really has them picked as being one of the leaders but I think they're really strong," another coach said.

Geldart photo courtesy Walt Dmoch/Plymouth Whalers

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

One game, one win for Machine

The Motor City Machine got its season off on the right foot, picking up its first win in franchise history with a 2-1 overtime victory over the Wenatchee Wild on Day 1 of the NAHL Showcase Tournament at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, Minn., today.

Trevor John’s OT goal sealed the deal for Motor City, with Andy Inderieden recording a goal of his own and assisting on John’s tally.

Goaltender Zach Hansen made 19 saves.

“We came out slow in the first period, but it felt good to get our first win,” said Machine head coach Matt Romaniski. “Wenatchee came out quick and hard and Zach kept us in the game.”

Traverse City gets St. Louis today in Blaine

Minnesota may be the "Land of 10,000 Lakes" and there are at least that many high hopes inside the Traverse City North Stars locker room as the team prepares to open the 2008-09 campaign today in suburban Minneapolis.

The Stars will jump right into the fire in the opening contest of the four-day North American Hockey League Showcase at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, facing off against defending NAHL Robertson Cup champion St. Louis Bandits.

“I think we’re all pretty much ready to get started,” said TC head coach-GM Anthony Palumbo. “You always look good before you play the games that count. And the first one against a very good team that lost a lot of their top players but really has re-loaded.”

The season-opening contest – in front of literally hundreds of college and pro scouts - will also feature a pair of players going against their former teams: The North Stars acquired defenseman Travis White during the off-season from the Bandits in exchange for forward Clinton Bourbonais. It’ll also be the first game behind the St. Louis bench for new head coach-GM Jeff Brown, a 13-year NHL vet and All-Star (1992-93).

The Stars will also face a trio of interdivisional foes in subsequent days, meeting Alaska, Bismarck, and Fairbanks before heading home to begin North Division action the following weekend – including the Sept. 27 home opener against Marquette at Centre ICE arena.

“We don’t see these teams during our regular season, so it’s not like you can prepare yourself for what they might do,” Palumbo explained. “You go out, you play your system, you make your adjustments. The one thing we’ve been stressing a lot lately, though, is that you can control how hard you work. We always have to go out and compete hard every shift. It’s a bit cliché, but a pretty good mantra.”

Each of the North Stars’ 58 home games will be broadcast live on the Internet via the B2 Network. Fans can link up to the video webcast at the Stars’ website.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Whalers name Terry captain

Chris Terry has been named the Plymouth Whalers' team captain for 2008-09.

AJ Jenks (Wolverine Lake), Joe Gaynor and Kaine Geldart have been named alternate captains and Michal Jordan has been named an acting alternate captain when the other "As" are out of the lineup.

Terry All-Star photo by Aaron Bell/OHL

Rangers off to NAHL Showcase

The Kenny Miller era officially begins this week for the Marquette Rangers as the team heads to Blaine, Minn., for four games in the annual North American Hockey League Showcase.

After a two-week training camp featuring both on and off ice training, the first-year Rangers coach says he’s optimistic about the first part of the season.

“We had two good weeks of training camp,” Miller said. “I think the guys are ready to start league play and to get going on the season, and from what I’ve seen, I think we’re going to be just fine heading into the Showcase.”

Marquette opens play against the North Iowa Outlaws Wednesday evening at 8:30 p.m. Last year, the Rangers opened the Showcase against the Outlaws and skated away with a 4-3 shootout win en route to a 3-1 Showcase record.

Despite wanting a fast start again this season, Miller added that the Showcase won’t make or break the season for his team.

“Obviously we want to go in there and play well and get some confidence coming into our home opener, but the real value of the event is getting our guys in front of all the college programs who will be there watching,” Miller added. “We’ll do all the necessary things we need to do to win, but we’re certainly not putting the entire season on one four-game tournament.”

In addition to facing the Outlaws, Marquette also plays the Topeka Roadrunners Thursday afternoon and Friday, they’ll play the Owatonna (Minn.) Express before wrapping up the four-game set with the Wichita Falls Wildcats on Saturday morning.

All Rangers games from the NAHL Showcase will be available with streaming video and audio through B2 Networks by accessing the team website.

Monday, September 15, 2008

2008 pick Fitze signs with Saginaw

The Saginaw Spirit has announced the signing of 2008 draft pick Dylan Fitze.

Fitze was selected by the Spirit in the third round (60th overall) last May.

Fitze, a native of Peterborough, Ont., notched 38 goals and 24 assists in 64 games last season with the Peterborough Petes minor midget team. The 1992-born forward will spend time this season with the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League's Lindsay Muskies.

"Dylan fits the mold of the type of player we want here in Saginaw," stated Spirit GM Don Edwards. "He competes hard and will compliment our offense nicely."

Friday, September 12, 2008

Ficorelli leaving Saginaw, back to Muskegon

The Saginaw Spirit regretfully announces the resignation of vice president of communications and broadcasting Terry Ficorelli, who will be leaving the organization in the following weeks to pursue a new job with his former team, the IHL's Muskegon Fury.

Ficorelli will be assuming a management role with the Fury.

“The Saginaw Spirit are thankful for the contributions Terry has made to this organization, both in the broadcast booth and in developing an exciting new relationship with Next Media,” stated Spirit president and partner Craig Goslin. “We are extensively searching for a replacement and plan on having someone in place in the near future.”

All 68 regular-season games, the Spirit daily update and the Spirit hockey show will still air as scheduled this season on Next Media’s FM Talk 100.5.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Machine moving to Wyandotte's Yack Arena

The Motor City Machine notified the North American Hockey League today that they will relocate their home games from the Ice Box Sports Center in Brownstown to the newly-renovated Yack Arena in Wyandotte.

“This was a very difficult and arduous decision, but the dreams, academic and athletic pursuits of the 25 young men on our roster are our priority,” said Machine managing partner Marc S. Schneider, MD. “We began this journey to relocate to Downriver area eight months ago and we investigated several venues.”

Yack Arena, the Taylor Sportsplex and the Ice Box, were all evaluated. In the end, the Ice Box was willing to contractually obligate itself to the significant structural improvements that are essential to a Junior A team's success. Due to other contracts, Yack and Taylor at the time, were unavailable.

“It was critical for the Ice Box to implement these changes and have them finalized prior to training camp," added Dr. Schneider. "We were very patient and worked diligently with the Ice Box to get these things accomplished. However, continued delays and unacceptable timelines forced us to consider other options.”

The city of Wyandotte has graciously opened its doors and is excited about the Machine playing their home games at the facility. The Machine will play their home opener against defending champion St Louis Bandits at Yack on Fri. Sept. 26 with a second game against the Bandits the next day.

“The Downriver community has been very excited and supportive of our move to the area,” said Motor City coach-GM Matt Romaniski. “Our players are starting to become part of the community, working with youth teams, making appearances at local businesses and working with elementary school reading programs.

"Playing at the Yack Arena will not only showcase one of the finest venues in our league, but also the people and fans that make Downriver area a great place to live.”

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Former Whaler Merlini re-signs with Icehawks

The Port Huron Icehawks of the International Hockey League announced Tuesday that they have added rookie defenseman Derek Merlini to the training camp roster for the 2008-09 season.

Merlini (6-foot-6, 245 pounds) joined the Icehawks in January of the 2007-08 season and finished the campaign with five points (two goals, three assists) and a plus-5 rating in 43 regular-season games. He also had one assist in eight playoff games.

The defenseman came to the Icehawks from the University of Windsor where he played parts of two seasons. He also spent five seasons in the OHL with the Erie Otters and Plymouth Whalers (2006).

“Merlini is a big player who towers above his opponents,” Port Huron coach-GM Stan Drulia said. “He is a capable defenseman and could be a big part of our defense if he uses his size in a physical way.”

The 23-year-old native of Clinton Township still qualifies for rookie status in the International Hockey League because he has played in less than 60 professional games.

Merlini joins two other ex-Whalers on the Icehawks this year as forward Kris Vernarsky (1998-2002) and goalie Larry Sterling (2000-2001) signed over the summer.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Michigan players aplenty on NAHL rosters

The North American Hockey League announced Monday the release of the rosters for its 18 teams and a Michigan player is rostered on 16 of them:

Jerry Freismuth, F, Grosse Pointe Woods
Josh Munford, F, Muskegon
Ryan Leets, G, Kentwood

Jason Souva, D, Alpena
Ryan Sell, D, Riga
Erik Peterson, F, Alpena
Jimmy McCusker, F, Novi
Jordan Miller, F, Trenton
Ryan Baratono, F, Livonia
Calvin Reed, D, Beverly Hills
J.C. Gulch, D, Temperance
Ryan Timar, F, Farmington Hills
Steve Tulgestka, D, Alpena
Scott Eberline, D, Novi
Clayton Hodges, F, Livonia
Andy Yarber, F, Livonia
Christopher Pobur, D, Detroit
Mike DeGrazia, F, Novi

Anthony Brown, F, St. Johns
Cody Keefer, F, Big Rapids
Bryan Kozlowski, F, Livonia
Greg Thocker, F, Grand Ledge

Cody Holzworth, F, Grosse Ile
Matt Anderson, G, Mason

Jimmy Hamby, G, Ann Arbor
Robbie Michalka, D, Portage
Rodney Lalonde, D, Utica
Gary Astalos, F, Southgate
Ryan Lemke, F, Clarkston
Robert Scott, F, Shelby Township
Mike Vallier, F, Kalamazoo
Joe Spencer, F, Clinton Township
Nick Dries, G, Lake Orion

Dustin Hopfner, D, Eastpointe
Robert Harrison, D, Lakeville
Michael Gunn, D, Livonia
Nick Kenney, F, Wixom
Brad Smith, F, Trenton
Kyle Verbeek, F, Bloomfield Hills
Nick Shkreli, F, Romeo
Mike Miller, D, Bloomfield Hills
Erik Higby, F, Shelby Township
Doug Clifford, F, Woodhaven

Kevin Kissaw, G, Goodrich
Austin Accettura, D, Novi
Andy Chovich, D, Macomb
Evan Accettura, D, Novi
Kevin Gravel, D, Kingsford
Jeff Slusser, D, Kentwood
Kent Daavettila, F, Howell
Collin Saint-Onge, F, Marquette
Aaron Pietila, F, Brighton
Nate Milam, F, Westland
Mike Thompson, D, Farmington Hills
Garrett Ladd, F, Fenton
Chad Pietila, F, Milford
Scott Deur, F, Big Rapids
Scott Henegar, F, Trenton
Doug Beck, F, Plymouth
Josh Bussell, F, LaSalle
Jim Gallagher, F, Marquette
Kevin Gibson, F, Grosse Pointe

Zach Hansen, G, Dexter
Trevor John, D, Grosse Pointe
Nate Taurence, D, Trenton
Kurtis Anton, F, Rochester Hills
Alec Thieda, D, Rochester Hills
Jake Friedman, F, West Bloomfield
Nick Taurence, F, Trenton
Phil Webb, F, Brownstown
Marco Ruggeri, F, St. Clair Shores
Kevin Bechard, F, Trenton
Dominic Chiappelli, F, Clarkston
Adam Kuhn, F, Southgate
Anthony Olson, F, West Bloomfield
Andrew Tate, F, Canton
Ryan Misiak, F, Shelby Township
R.J. Heath, G, Holly
Joe Rogers, G, Marysville

Alex Charette, D, Wolverine Lake
Jacob DeSano, D, Washington Township

Carson Curran, D, Flint

Matt Globke, F, Bloomfield

Billy Balent, F, Waterford
Chris Ciotti, F, Romeo
Ryan Rashid, F, Farmington Hills

Eric Artman, D, East Lansing
Colin Smith, F, Macomb
Steve Shafer, F, Rochester

Brandon Stephenson, G, Saline
Travis White, D, Sterling Heights
Bo Jacobs, D, Muskegon
Chris Heineman, D, New Boston
Tyler Stephenson, D, Rockford
David Johnstone, F, Grand Ledge
Kyle Jean, F, Sault Ste. Marie
Eric McLintock, F, Traverse City
Eric O'Hearn, F, Traverse City
Josh Miller, F, Trenton
Garrett Thompson, F, Traverse City
Ryan Amin, F, Canton
Marc Thompson, F, Traverse City
Dean Pawlaczyk, F, Madison Heights
Jarrod Labelle, F, Midland
Sean Burke, F, Traverse City
Phil Wendecker, D, Westland
C.J. Motte, G, Port Huron
Dallas Kniss, G, Traverse City

D.J. Vandercook, F, Farmington Hills
Michael Voran, F, Livonia

Zachary Trotman, D, Novi
Patrick Cahill, F, Farmington Hills
Adam Sponseller, F, Mt. Pleasant
Sean Mckenzie, F, Howell
Ricky Brown, F, Holt
Jeff McNeil, F, Mulliken
Tim Opie, F, Troy
Zachary Rourke, F, Oxford
Mike Jarboe, G, Grosse Pointe Park
Philip Graveline, G, Marshall
Curtis Heinz, D, Grand Rapids

Monday, September 08, 2008

Ann Arbor Futures field announced

The North American Hockey League, in conjunction with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, announced Monday the field for the season’s second Sherwood Future Prospects Tournament.

The event, which will be held in conjunction with the second annual NAHL/Sherwood Top Prospects Tournament from January 16-19, 2009 at the Ice Cube in Ann Arbor, will feature eight teams at the U18 (Midget Major) level, 20 at the U16 (Midget Minor) level and six at the U14 (Bantam) level.

U18 Division
Dallas Penguins
LA Selects
Lansing Capitals
Motor City Machine
Ohio AAA Blue Jackets
Pikes Peak Miners
San Jose Jr. Sharks
St. Louis Selects

U16 Division
Belle Tire
Chicago Fury
Chicago Mission
Colorado Thunderbirds
Dallas Penguins
LA Selects
Little Caesars
Mahoning Valley
Motor City Machine
Ohio AAA Blue Jackets
Pikes Peak Miners
Pittsburgh Hornets
S2 AAA Hockey
San Jose Jr. Sharks
St. Louis AAA Blues
Team Illinois
TPH Thunder
Victory Honda

U14 Division
Chicago Fury
LA Selects
Ohio AAA Blue Jackets
S2 AAA Hockey
TPH Thunder

More information on the Future Prospects Tournament, including tournament-approved hotels and the schedule, will be released this week.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Former Whaler Drew earns ECHL contract

The Dayton Bombers of the ECHL have signed former Plymouth Whalers goaltender Paul Drew for the 2008-09 season.

As per club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Drew enters his first professional season after playing four years at the University of Prince Edward Island. The Merlin, Ontario, native backstopped 95 games for PEI, collecting a career 3.66 goals-against average and a .881 save percentage. He was twice named team MVP and was selected to the 2007 Atlantic Universities All-Star Team.

“It feels great to get to this point in my career after four years at the collegiate level and I’m anxious to get to Dayton and get the season started,” Drew said. “I’m looking forward to having a shot at being the team’s No. 1 goalie. This is the highest point of my career and I want to help take the team as far as I can.”

Prior to his collegiate career, the 5-foot-10, 190-pound goalie spent four years with the Whalers where he went 73-35-16 with a 2.63 GAA and a .911 SV%.

“Paul comes highly recommended from his coaches at PEI and Plymouth,” said Dayton head coach Bill McDonald. “He has a lot of positive qualities as a goaltender and is an outstanding individual when it comes to attitude, character and leadership.”

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Late draft pick McCauley signs with Whalers

The Flint Junior Generals of the Central States Hockey League have announced that 17-year-old forward Myles McCauley will play for the Plymouth Whalers in the Ontario Hockey League this coming season.

The 6-foot-2, 190-pound McCauley came in at midseason during the 2007-08 season and played 21g ames, scoring 7 goals.

"The CSHL was a good experience for Myles," said Flint GM Kelly Cronk. "He learned what junior hockey was all about coming from the Honeybaked midget AAA program. The Flint Junior Generals are proud of Myles and wish him luck in his future with the Whaler program."

McCauley, a Sterling Heights native, was drafted by Plymouth in the 14th round (279th overall) of the 2007 OHL Priority Selection from the Belle Tire Spartans.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Rangers acquire tough Deur from Brown Bears

The Marquette Rangers continued their preparations for the upcoming North American Hockey League season with the acquisition of Scott Deur from the Kenai River Brown Bears of the NAHL West Division.

The 5-foot-11, 175-pound forward from downstate Big Rapids finished the 2007-08 NAHL season with six goals and 10 assists and a -2 plus/minus rating in 48 games for Kenai River.

“Scott will add a dimension to this team that we really didn’t have,” said Rangers head coach Kenny Miller. “He’s tough, hard-nosed and gives us a strong physical presence on the ice which is an area we needed to improve on if we were to be successful this year. Scott can play that physical game, but is also capable of adding to our offense as the season goes along. He’s a well-rounded hockey player who we feel will fit right in with the players already on our roster.”

Miller added that Deur’s style of play is one the fans will notice right away.

“Scott will no doubt be appreciated by the fans this year," said Miller. "He works hard, he leads by example, he makes things happen and he’s the kind of guy you know is on the ice when he takes his shift. We’re confident he’ll be a great addition to the Rangers and to what we’re trying to accomplish this season.”